Time again for the 18th annual National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, the largest one-day food drive in the country. Your mail carrier has already dropped off a paper grocery bag with your mail. On May 8, you just leave your bag, filled with healthy non-perishables, next to your mailbox. Your mail carrier picks the bag up and the post office delivers it to your local food bank (Capital Area Food Bank for my area).
I like this setup. Picking out whichever nutritious foods you can afford and keeping an eye peeled for special finds, you can really personalize your donation. No need to break the bank when shopping for your bag—hit up your nearby BigLots. You never know what exactly you’ll come across there. Organics, exotics, and even luxuries like Poppycock (I am a total sucker for toffee popcorn!)—all this and more for bargain prices at your local closeout store. After filling your donation bag, you might even have some cash leftover for a couple of goodies for your own household. The kindergartner picked out a big bag of sunflower seeds for only 80¢, and I went ahead and bought two jars of all natural Peruvian red and green chile relish at $1 each—one for the bag and one for me.
I was shooting for a $20 load. Here’s what $20.45 got me:
- 3 cans assorted tropical fruits—mango, papaya and tropical mix
- canned peaches
- canned mandarin oranges
- canned green beans
- canned peas
- 2 cans organic garbanzo beans
- 2 cans organic black beans
- 4 jars organic turkey veggie baby food
- 1 large can pink salmon
- 1 can sardines in water, 1 can sardines in mustard sauce
- 1 large can spaghetti sauce
- 1 jar all natural Peruvian red and green chile relish
- 1 bag walnut pieces
I went straight for the fruits first, as I saw from the Hunger Awareness Project that fresh produce can be lacking in food pantry allotments. I was thrilled to find the tropical fruits. BigLots offered even more varities than what I purchased. Raisins are great on the go, couldn’t pass ’em up. Canned veggies and (organic!) canned beans are true staples.
Organic baby food was another good deal. I wonder if the food banks get enough baby food.
I’m big on canned salmon (although I’m lucky to be able to shell out for the red stuff—sockeye reigns supreme in the world of shelf stable salmons. Even so, it’s still cheap!), and $2.70 for the 14.75-ounce pink is a decent deal. Sardines are another very healthy (one of the few foods to boast a naturally high vitamin D content), sustainably fished resource.
The spaghetti sauce is an obvious choice for getting nutritious tomatoes into hungry bellies. Easy money. And that jar of Peruvian chile relish? Chiles are great for you (with vitamins A, B’s and C) and they sure do perk up a meal.
Lastly, the walnuts. I love all kinds of nuts and eat a handful every day. They store well in the freezer so you can stock up when you find them on special. Walnuts are particularly good for you, and I hate to think some folks never get to eat any. I’m happy that a hungry person here in Central Texas will enjoy them.
I had a blast shopping for my donation bag, even with the kindergartner helping! It made my day. I hope my effort does the same for a fellow Texan.
Please remember to set out your bag of non-perishable foods by the mailbox Saturday morning. Let’s Stamp Out Hunger!